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Obama to Russia: There will be 'costs' for Ukraine

Obama Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is warning Russia "there will be costs" for any military maneuvers it launches in Ukraine, a move U.S. and Ukrainian officials say they believe to be already underway.

Officials say Obama may retaliate by canceling a trip to Russia this summer for an international summit and could also cut off trade discussions with Moscow. But it's unclear whether those moves will have any impact on Russia's calculus in Ukraine, which is at the center of what many see as a tug of war between East and West.

"Any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing," Obama declared Friday in a statement from the White House. Such action by Russia would represent a "profound interference" in matters that must be decided by the Ukrainian people, he said.

Separately, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that while he would not address specific U.S. options, "this could be a very dangerous situation if this continues in a provocative way." Asked about options in a CBS News interview, he said that "we're trying to deal with a diplomatic focus, that's the appropriate, responsible approach."

As Obama prepared to speak late Friday, a spokesman for the Ukrainian border service said eight Russian transport planes had landed with unknown cargo in Ukraine's Crimea region. Serhiy Astakhov told The Associated Press that the Il-76 planes arrived unexpectedly and were given permission to land, one after the other, at Gvardeiskoye air base.

U.S. officials said they also believed Russian personnel had entered Crimea. The State Department urged U.S. citizens to defer nonessential travel plans in Ukraine because of "the potential for instability."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to host the Group of Eight economic summit in June in Sochi, the site of the recently completed Winter Olympics. The U.S. is in discussions about the summit with European partners and it is difficult to see how some of those leaders would attend the summit if Russia has forces in Crimea, according to the administration officials. They were not authorized to discuss the situation by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Obama canceled a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin last year after Russia granted asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, though Obama still attended a separate international meeting in Russia.

The administration's warning that trade talks could be halted came as Russian officials were in Washington for economic discussions with Obama advisers.

For the U.S., levying punishments on Russia is complicated by the myriad issues on which the White House needs Moscow's help. Among them: ending the bloodshed in Syria, negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran and transporting U.S. military troops and equipment out of Afghanistan through Russian supply routes.

At the White House, a somber Obama decried the situation in Ukraine and warned about deeper outside intervention.

"Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, that would invite the condemnation of nations around the world," he said. "The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."

Political turmoil in Ukraine has pushed President Viktor Yanukovych from office. Yanukovych held a news conference in southern Russia Friday in which he said he was not asking Moscow for military assistance and called military action "unacceptable."

In his appearance before reporters, however, Yanukovych, who still regards himself the president, also vowed to "keep fighting for the future of Ukraine" and blamed the U.S. and the West for encouraging the rebellion that forced him to flee last weekend.

One of the catalysts for massive demonstrations that led to Yanukovych's ouster was his rejection of a partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of historical ties with Moscow. That EU agreement would have paved the way for Ukraine's greater integration with the West, including potential affiliation with NATO, something to which Russia strongly objects for former Warsaw Pact members.

Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials have tried without success to dispel widespread sentiment in Russia that the United States and Europe are trying to pry Ukraine out from under Russian influence. They have insisted repeatedly that Ukraine is not a "zero-sum game" in which one side - Russia or the West - wins and the other loses.

Their argument, though, seems to be falling on deaf ears in Moscow, where Russian officials have been accusing the U.S. and its allies of meddling, fomenting anti-Russia sentiment and actively encouraging Kiev's Western aspirations at the expense of its historical connections.

There was no known contact Friday between Obama and Putin, who last spoke a week ago.

Kerry did call Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the second time in two days to press the Kremlin to keep its promise to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Kerry said he warned Moscow against military moves in Crimea that could further inflame tensions.

Lavrov repeated Russian President Vladimir Putin's pledge to do just that while also pointing out that Russia has broad interests in Ukraine, Kerry said.

The secretary of state said the U.S. was watching to see if Russian activity in Crimea "might be crossing a line in any way." He added that the administration would be "very careful" in making judgments about that.

Kerry reiterated the U.S. view that Russian military intervention in Ukraine following the ouster of the country's Russia-backed leader would run counter to Russia's self-professed opposition to such operations in other countries, such as Libya and Syria.

Underscoring U.S. concerns about Russian intervention are memories of the conflict in Georgia, where Russian troops remain in two disputed enclaves in violation of a 2008 cease-fire.

Amid the heightened tensions over Ukraine, the U.S. this week twice renewed its objections to the Russian military presence in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.


Join the discussion

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amosesjr March 01 2014 at 6:42 AM

I can feel the tension. Putin and the Russians are shaking in their boots.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
chuck March 01 2014 at 6:55 AM

Why is there NO mention of the civil unrest and uprising in Venezuela?

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
fishhead80 chuck March 01 2014 at 7:06 AM

For the same reason there is no mention of the unrest in our own country, the US. It's about time Obama the king , is removed from Office for treason. But he appointed the heads of the FBI & the Justice Dept. and the CIA, so those heads won't let anyone investigate or charge this scum bag with anything.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
bsadonis chuck March 01 2014 at 7:22 AM

Big time problems going to happen in Venezuela in the next 60 days!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
jim March 01 2014 at 7:06 AM

When is Obama and his team going to realize that Putin has no respect for him? They could care less about his empty meaningless threats. Putin is a leader and Obama is just a likeable politician!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
Don Paulson jim March 01 2014 at 7:11 AM

Agree with one of your points...I'm sure "Ol Vlad" is scared to death of what Barrack may do to him if he doesn't get in line. Obama seems to forget Putin is an Ex-KGB.
As far as Obama being a likeable politician..what is there to like about a guy who lies every time he opens his mouth.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
fishhead80 jim March 01 2014 at 7:17 AM

Like able? After what he's done? And now he wants to help only black men? This guy has set our nation back decades with his community oprganizeing BS. We might as well of had Sharpton as president.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Leo March 01 2014 at 7:07 AM

Yeah..... you ruskies are going to have to sign up for Obamacare. ( in US Dollars or Chinese Yen)

Flag Reply +5 rate up
dal March 01 2014 at 7:09 AM

OOOo! Obama got his Obama mama Michele in the white house kitchen boiling up one big pot of wet noodles Putin! and he has Lil' Wayne pinning one mad dissing rap song to lay on ya! His hat is on backwards so ya know he means business. Yo Yo through up the sign Bro!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
HELLO JIM March 01 2014 at 7:09 AM

Putin if you don't pull out of Ukraine I will cut our Armed Forces by another 100.000

Flag Reply +10 rate up
Gene March 01 2014 at 7:10 AM

Now that's the most serious threat I've heard from the Obama towards any foreign country. The Obama and the Dems told Americans there would be costs as a result of his evil policies and he didn't lie about that! Other things yes. Putin better keep his hand on his wallet if he knows whats good for him. Back off Commie or the Obama will break your bank!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
cwestbrookjr March 01 2014 at 7:10 AM

Are we drawing another line? Putin has no respect for America and John Kerry and President Obama are seen as weak. We can assume Putin sees those costs, what ever they are as reasonable given he can rebuild portions of his beloved USSR.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
GEORGE March 01 2014 at 7:11 AM

Stay out of it Barak. Secure our borders, send the Beaners back, and get your ears fixed.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
me26250 March 01 2014 at 7:12 AM

What a clown, the world has no regard for the United States under the current administration.

The world goes to hell and he goes to a fund raiser.

Thank God we have Joe Biden ready to take over should something happen to Barry.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
stan.note me26250 March 01 2014 at 7:32 AM

In other words, thank God there's a white man to take over, right? Apparently, it doesn't matter WHO runs the country as long as he meets your idea of the status quo. Unfortunately, you don't understand that Obama is Biden's BOSS. They pretty much share the same views, and when Biden does ANYTHING, including traveling to countries to talk policy, it's to do Obama's bidding. You sound woefully uninformed.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
dogdocdad stan.note March 01 2014 at 7:43 AM

My god...don't u know sarcasm when u see it? He was saying that Joe Biden is an idiot...everyone knows that.

Flag +1 rate up
seejohnedrum stan.note March 01 2014 at 7:47 AM

Race, Really. Guess that's what it comes down to when there is nothing else for Obama's dwindling supporters. You should be ashamed.

Flag +1 rate up
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